A Co Clare-based diver, who was involved in the rescue of the Thai boys football team from a cave complex during the week, has arrived back in Ireland.

Belgian-born diver Jim Warny, who has been living in Ireland for 15 years, landed at Shannon Airport this morning.

He travelled to Thailand following a request from the government there for international expertise to assist in the rescue effort. 

After being greeted by his fiancée and his father, he entered the arrivals area of the airport to rapturous applause.

A number of representatives from the cave diving community in Co Clare were also on hand to welcome him home.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Warny said he was very fortunate to be able to help in the rescue effort.

He outlined how he had discussed his involvement with his family before leaving Ireland and decided to travel after weighing up the options.

Mr Warny said it was a miracle that a combined international effort resulted in all the boys being able to go home safe to their families.

He said they were the true heroes of the rescue because of the courage and resolve they displayed during the time they were trapped in the cave.

But he said the experience was somewhat bittersweet due to the death of a Thai Navy SEAL diver during the initial stages of the rescue effort.

He said the conditions involved were really difficult, but as experienced cavers the team he was attached to was able to manage the risk and stresses involved.

This allowed them to perform at the front end of the rescue.


Read more:
Thai cave rescue: What the search teams faced
Timeline: How the rescue unfolded


All 12 boys and their football coach who were trapped for more than two weeks deep inside a flooded Thai cave were rescued on 10 July.

The "Wild Boars" team and their coach became trapped on 23 June while exploring the cave complex in the northern province of Chiang Rai after training and a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels.

British divers found the 13 boys, hungry and huddled in darkness on a muddy bank in a partly flooded chamber several kilometres inside the complex, on Monday of last week.

After pondering for days how to get the 13 out, a rescue operation began on Sunday when four of the boys were brought out tethered to rescue divers.